I absolutely loved the place and was ultra impressed with their decorating style (he shares the apartment with his girlfriend), especially the “New York Wall.” Chuckling more than once during the visit at his fastidiousness, I realized how alike we are because I too feel a need for everything to be in its rightful place. There is something so comforting about that.
Anyway, as much as being in Boston is always wonderful for me, it is also difficult. I have always adored the city and the suburbs surrounding it, but for much of the ten years I lived and worked in “Beantown,” I did not trust that I belonged there. It’s a funny thing to be standing in the middle of a place that you get homesick for, realizing that the whole time you called it home, you did not really know how to “be” there.
Which brings me to this website’s subject of “belonging.” I gotta tell you – at times I ache realizing how often I didn’t trust “right there right then,” throughout my life. I am tugged to “if only,” more often than I care to admit. “If only” I had known how to stay. And, what I know today, absolutely, although the awareness has been a long time coming, is that I always belonged wherever I was, even though I never truly knew it in the midst of being there.
Back when I first arrived in Massachusetts, transferred there with the financial services company I worked for, I had the world by the tail (hindsight being 20/20 of course): Mom to an amazing teenager, owner of a beautiful home in Fairfield County, Connecticut, raking in serious bucks, good friends by my side (many thankfully still friends today), I had a life beyond my wildest dreams.
However, from the minute I got to the Bay State I missed the Constitution one. Even though I traveled back and forth on weekends, it was not the same. On Friday, I was disappointed that I would miss the weekend in Boston and on Monday, I hated that the week's happenings in Connecticut would go on without me. It was exhausting and it continued for years. I regularly felt the “should I stay or should I go now” feeling when I was in either place and I longed to put roots down in only one, but wanted both. I realize now of course how impossible it is to maintain one foot in one place and one in another.
The tug of war that occurred is telling for me today. I needed a foundation so badly and was so busy looking for the place I belonged in, that I completely missed the fact that I utterly belonged in both. These days I miss both Massachusetts and Connecticut, and must admit, I really, really wish I had those two homes again to go back and forth to, although thankfully I am happy here in my Florida one.
Last weekend, as we strolled through Faneuil Hall and the waterfront, I felt a tug so gut wrenching, so visceral, that it took my breath away with the old familiar pull of “if only” and “what if.” I allowed it to come and honored it, but only for a moment. Then I turned to my son and his lovely girlfriend and together we headed towards Paul Revere’s house. As we walked through the rooms, I thought about what it must have been like to live there so many years ago. I could not help but wonder whether Paul ever struggled over belonging there or somewhere else.
For the rest of the day, as we wandered around Boston, I allowed myself to be a sightseer in the city I once lived in. I daresay a slightly arrogant one though, because I absolutely knew my way around. Thinking back, I recall the moment a confident jaunt came into my step as we maneuvered through the streets. We had just decided to pass up the chocolate covered cannoli at Mike’s Pastry because only tourists wait on line there, and it was at that moment when things shifted. We passed the winding queue and as we did, I knew I had come home, but not just to Boston, to all the places I had ever been.
Today, I woke up with the sun shining in on my rental home in Florida. My husband tapped snooze on his alarm clock as I rose to greet the day. The coffee, I knew, was already brewing in the kitchen because he always sets the timer for me before going to bed. Moments later, as I stood looking out the window at the blue jay in the yard, coffee mug in hand, I breathed in a most lovely sense of belonging, of fitting into my life now. I was grateful for the realization that I get to live here with someone I love and can return for visits to all the other places I called home before. I belong here, right here, just as I belonged in New York, Connecticut, Boston and New Jersey, all the places I resided in over the years. The difference is, now I know it.